Genoveffa Colandrea didn’t have to look far when her right knee pain became unbearable. She works at an Italian restaurant and Pizzeria across the parking lot from Rothman Institute’s Manahawkin office. It was in May of 2016 when she made an appointment and saw Dr. Fabio Orozco. After x-rays and an examination, Dr. Orozco told Colandrea she could be a candidate for a total knee replacement. However, due to her weight she did not meet the criteria for total joint replacement at that time.
“Genoveffa was a wonderful lady and I was anxious to help her, but her body just wasn’t physically ready for the surgery,” said Orozco. “Her body mass index – or BMI - was too high. Studies show that losing weight prior to surgery, to an acceptable body mass index significantly decreases surgical complications. We have to do what is best and safest for the patient, even if that is holding off on surgery. So I asked her if she would consider seeing Rothman Institute’s in-house registered dietitian, Ciara Beck, to help her lose the weight needed for a safe surgery. She agreed.”
Ciara Beck, RD, is one of two Rothman Institute dietitians. She sees patients at Rothman’s Manahawkin, Marlton and Egg Harbor Township offices and specializes in weight management and disease prevention. Beck not only strives to help her patients lose weight, but she also stresses the importance of their eating a quality, nutritious diet. Her focus is to support Rothman’s surgical candidates in preparing for surgery by helping them to be in optimal physical condition.
“I am really our patients’ biggest cheerleader,” said Beck. “Genoveffa was such a sweet lady. On our initial visit we laid out a plan and put it into action.”
Over the next five months, under Beck’s supportive eye, Colandrea lost 30 pounds! She brought her BMI down enough to have her surgery.
“I work at a pizzeria, but haven’t had pizza in months,” said Colandrea. “I also stopped my late night runs to a convenience store which was very difficult. Once I started prepping my own food and with the support of my family and friends at work, I became very dedicated to losing the weight.”
At her appointments Beck and Colandrea would review food labels, discuss nutritional choices, and work on surmounting the barriers of her new diet.
“She couldn’t exercise because of her painful knee, so it was really challenging for her to lose the weight solely through diet,” said Beck. “When she hit her goal, I was so proud of her. I am looking forward to her being able to exercise and continuing her journey to a happier, healthier self.”
Once she hit her goal weight she came back to Dr. Orozco to schedule her surgery. AtlantiCare’s Center for Perioperative Medicine team evaluated and cleared her for surgery.
On January 17, 2017, Colandrea was sitting in the pre-operative area at AtlantiCare Regional Medical Center Mainland Campus. All her hard work and dedication was about to pay off, but she wasn’t proud or excited, she was nervous.
Dr. Orozco arrived, he gave her a pep talk, signed the knee he was going to operate on with a purple surgical marker. He answered her and her family’s questions, and headed to the OR to wait for Colandrea to be wheeled down.
A short period of time later Colandrea’s surgery began, her new knee was implanted, and she was wheeled to the recovery room.
Afterwards Dr. Orozco personally visited Colandrea’s children in the waiting room, as he does with all his patients’ families.
Colandrea left ARMC’s Musculoskeletal Unit the next day to begin her recovery at home.
Click here to read part 2.
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